October 1, 2023

Italian and Israeli agents among four dead after boat capsizes in Lake Maggiore

2 min read

Tourist boat was reportedly carrying more than 20 people when it was struck by a whirlwind on Sunday

Two agents from the Italian intelligence services and a retired member of the Israeli security forces were among the victims when a tourist boat capsized and sank in a sudden, violent storm in a northern Italian lake, it has emerged.

Claudio Alonzi, 62, and Tiziana Barnobi, 53, who worked for Italian intelligence, were officially named among the dead on Monday.

The body of a former member of the Israeli security forces was also recovered by Italian firefighters and his identity was confirmed by Israel’s foreign ministry, according to the Italian state broadcaster Rai.

A fourth victim was named as Russian Anya Bozhkova, the wife of the boat’s owner.

The boat was reportedly carrying more than 20 people, including a group of foreign tourists celebrating a birthday, plus two crew members, when a whirlwind overturned the vessel on Sunday.

It is not yet clear whether the agents had made an appointment for a holiday trip on the lake or if they had met for work reasons.

Firefighters said 19 passengers survived. Many reportedly managed to swim to shore or were picked up by other boats after the vessel overturned off Lisanza, at the southern end of Lake Maggiore.

The Lombardy region’s president, Attilio Fontana, said the incident was caused by a whirlwind. The boat was 16 metres (52ft) long and had been hired by tourists, he said on Facebook.

The Busto Arsizio prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into the incident. On Monday, Italian authorities said checks were under way on the boat’s safety and capacity.

The whirlwind was part of a storm system that hit the Lombardy region on Sunday evening, forcing delays at Malpensa airport.

Lake Maggiore, which lies on the south side of the Alps, is the second largest lake in Italy and a popular tourist destination.

Italy has had a series of recent disasters linked to extreme weather events. On 17 May, 15 people died and thousands were left homeless after 21 rivers burst their banks after heavy storms across the country, triggering flooding and landslides, which in turn damaged or closed off 500 roads. Last November, a landslide on the Gulf of Naples island of Ischia killed 12 people.

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